The celebration of everything New York begins Wednesday, August 23 and runs through Monday, September 4 (Labor Day). Our information representatives will be at the fairgrounds in Syracuse from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm to help members and retirees with their retirement planning and benefit questions. You’ll also be able to pick up retirement plan brochures and forms, request an estimate that will be mailed to you and get help registering for a Retirement Online account.
The NYSLRS booth will be in the Center of Progress Building, Building 3 on the State Fair map, near the Main Gate.
Find Unclaimed Funds at the State Fair
OSC’s Office of Unclaimed Funds booth will also be in the Center of Progress Building. An unclaimed fund is lost or forgotten money, perhaps in an old bank account or insurance policy, that has been turned over to the State. See if any of that money is yours. So far this year, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and the Office of Unclaimed Funds have returned more than $295 million.
Special Fair Days
Wednesday, August 23
Opening Day — Governor’s Day
Thursday, August 24
Student Youth Day — Youth and students under 18 years of age are admitted free on this day. ID showing date of birth may be requested.
Agriculture Career Day
Friday, August 25
Pride Day — The first State fair in America to host an official Pride Day to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community.
New Americans Day
Monday, August 28
Law Enforcement Day — Free admission to any active or retired law enforcement or corrections personnel who present a badge or picture ID from the department from which they are or were employed.
Tuesday, August 29
Comptroller DiNapoli Visits the Fair — He is the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and is the administrator of NYSLRS. He will present area residents and organizations with unclaimed funds, and he’ll be stopping by the NYSLRS booth during the day.
Fire & Rescue Day — Free admission to any active or retired member of a fire department or emergency services organization who presents a picture ID from that department or organization.
Wednesday, August 30
Thursday, August 31
Armed Forces Day — Free admission to any active-duty service member or veteran with military identification (military ID card, form DD-214 or NYS driver license, learner permit or nondriver ID card with a veteran designation).
Stomp Out Stigma Day
Friday, September 1
Native American Day — Free admission to all members of Native American tribes, no ID required.
Looking for some summer reading to add to your e-reader? Check out these publications from NYSLRS for important retirement information.
1. Retirement Plan for ERS Tier 6 Members (Article 15)
Are you one of more than 350,000 Tier 6 Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members covered by Article 15? Your retirement plan publication explains some of the benefits and the services available to you, including service retirement, disability retirement, death benefits and more. Read it now.
2. Retirement Plan for ERS Tier 3 and 4 Members (Articles 14 and 15)
If you’re not in Tier 6, you’re likely among more than 260,000 Tier 3 and 4 ERS members covered by Article 14 and 15. Check out your publication to find out about the benefits and the services available to you. Read it now.
3. Service Credit for Tiers 2 Through 6
The service credit you earn as a NYSLRS member is an important factor in the calculation of your pension. This publication explains the service you can earn credit for and how you can request to purchase credit for additional public employment or military service. Read it now.
4. What If I Leave Public Employment?
While we hope you stay a NYSLRS member throughout your working career, we understand that circumstances can change. If you leave public employment, this publication explains what you’ll need to do and what happens to your NYSLRS membership. Spoiler: It depends on how much service you have. Read it now.
5. What If I Work After Retirement?
Generally, NYSLRS retirees under age 65 can earn up to $35,000 per calendar year from public employers in New York State without affecting their NYSLRS pension. However, you should be aware of the laws governing post-retirement employment and how working after retirement may impact your retirement benefits. If you are considering working while collecting your pension, you should read this publication. If you already work in public employment as a NYSLRS retiree, read our Update Regarding Retiree Earnings Limit blog post for information about recent legislation and Governor’s executive orders that affect the limit.
These days, a 55-year-old man can expect to live for another 27.4 years, to about 82. A 55-year-old woman can expect to live for more than 30 years. These figures, derived from the Social Security life expectancy calculator, are only averages. They don’t account for factors such as health, lifestyle or family medical history.
Here are some other statistics worth considering as you plan for retirement (as of the State fiscal year that ended March 31, 2022):
More than 37,000 NYSLRS retirees were over 85 years old;
More than 3,500 had passed the 95-year mark; and
401 NYSLRS’ retirees were 101 or older.
Considering that many public employees can retire as early as 55, it’s possible that a fair number of them could have retirements that last 45 years or more.
Saving for a Long Retirement
Your NYSLRS pension is one source of income that you can depend on however long your retirement lasts. Employees’ Retirement System (ERS) members who retired in fiscal year 2022 are receiving an average monthly pension of $2,748. Social Security is another long-term source. The average Social Security benefit for a retired worker was $1,837 a month, as of June 2023.
Your retirement savings is a crucial asset that can supplement your pension and Social Security. In a long retirement, savings can help with rising costs and provide a source of cash in an emergency.
It is never too late to start saving for retirement. The New York State Deferred Compensation Plan is one easy way to get started. It’s a program created for New York State employees and employees of participating public agencies. If you’re a municipal employee, ask your employer if you’re eligible for the Deferred Compensation Plan or another retirement savings plan. (The New York State Deferred Compensation Plan is not affiliated with NYSLRS.)
You should also visit our Start Saving for Retirement page. You’ll find an example of how much you can save over a 30-year period, and a sample withdrawal strategy designed to provide retirement income for 20 years.
New York Retirement News is dedicated to keeping NYSLRS members and retirees informed about developments that may affect their benefits. In case you missed them, or just want to take another look, here are some of our most popular blog posts from the past year.
Becoming Vested Becoming vested is a crucial milestone in your NYSLRS membership. Under legislation enacted in April 2022, Tier 5 and 6 members are now vested after five years of service. Previously, these members needed ten years of service credit to be eligible for a service retirement benefit.
Update Regarding Retiree Earnings Limit Normally, most NYSLRS retirees who return to work for a public employer are limited in how much they can earn before their pension would be suspended. The limit is $35,000 per calendar year, however, executive orders from the Governor and legislation temporarily suspended this limit. Read the blog post for current information.
Enhanced Death Benefit for Survivors of COVID-19 Victims Survivors of NYSLRS members who contract COVID-19 on the job may be entitled to an enhanced death benefit if the member dies as a result of the disease. This accidental death benefit covers eligible deaths through December 31, 2024.
Find Your Retirement Plan Publication Your retirement plan publication is an essential resource that provides comprehensive information about your NYSLRS benefits. It explains how long you’ll need to work to receive a pension, how your benefit is determined, what death and disability benefits may be available and more. Our new tool can help you find your plan publication.
What is a Defined Benefit Plan? As a NYSLRS member, you are part of a defined benefit plan, also known as a traditional pension plan. Defined benefit plans are often confused with defined contribution plans, but there are major differences between the two types of plans.
Service credit is one of the major factors in calculating your NYSLRS pension. You earn a year of service credit for each year of full-time employment with a participating employer. In some cases, you may also be able to request additional credit for past service, which could increase your pension amount.
You can request credit for past service if you:
Worked for a participating employer before joining NYSLRS;
Worked for a public employer that later participated in NYSLRS; or
Received an honorable discharge from active military duty.
In most cases, you have to pay to receive additional service credit. The sooner you purchase your credit, the less it will generally cost. You must apply for any additional service credit that you wish to receive before you retire. After you apply, we’ll determine whether you’re eligible for the credit and how much it would be.
Credit for Previous Public Employment
Additional service credit includes work for an employer who later joined NYSLRS, or for public employment before you became a NYSLRS member.
Example: You worked at the town library while going to school and, as a part-time employee, you chose not to join NYSLRS. When you graduated and took a full-time job at the Town Supervisor’s office, you were required to join. You can request credit for the part-time service at the library.
When you apply, you’ll be asked for the name of the employer and the approximate dates you worked there. We encourage you to submit any proof you may have of your previous service. We will also reach out to your former employer, but you may be able to expedite the process by providing payroll records such as W-2 forms or pay stubs to NYSLRS when you apply.
You must earn two years of service credit as a member before additional service can be credited to you.
Military Service Credit
If you served in the U.S. armed forces, you may be eligible to purchase credit toward your retirement for your military service, regardless of whether your military service was before or after you joined NYSLRS.
There are different sections of the law that allow credit for military service. The amount of military service credit you can receive, and the cost (if any), will vary depending on which section of the law allows the credit. Reserve and National Guard service may qualify if it’s considered active duty.
For certain military service, you must have five years of member service credit before you can apply.
How to Request Additional Service Credit
You can apply for additional service credit and military service credit in Retirement Online. Sign in to your account, scroll down to the ‘My Account Summary’ section of your Account Homepage and click the “Manage My Service Purchases” button, then click “Request Additional Service Credit.” If you are applying for military service credit, select “Article 20 Military” when asked for your employer.
There may be other ways to increase your retirement service credit. If you had a previous membership in a New York State public retirement system and it was terminated, you may be able to reinstate your membership. If you still have an active membership in another public retirement system, but you are no longer working for the employer that participates in that retirement system, you may be able to transfer that membership to NYSLRS.
A word of caution — there are certain situations where purchasing additional service credit will not increase your pension. For example, special retirement plans for police officers and firefighters allow retirement after 20 or 25 years of service regardless of age, but not all types of public employment count toward the 20 or 25 years in these plans. Contact us if you have questions.
For more information about purchasing additional credit:
Retirement Online is a secure and convenient way for members to do business with NYSLRS. Submitting applications through Retirement Online speeds up the process and enables NYSLRS to serve more customers more quickly. Here’s a look at some of the things NYSLRS members (not yet retired) can do online.
View Your Account Information
Sign in to Retirement Online for easy access to key information about your NYSLRS account. On your Account Homepage, scroll down to the ‘Account Info’ section. There, you can find your date of membership, tier, retirement plan, estimated total service credit and more.
Update Your Contact Information
It’s important that we have your current contact information to make sure you receive the news, letters and statements that we send you. You can change your mailing address, phone number or email address in the ‘My Profile Information’ section of your Account Homepage. Just click “update” next to the item you’d like to change.
You can save time and reduce paper waste by going green and opting to receive information from NYSLRS electronically. Choose “E-mail” next to ‘Contact by,’ and when important information is ready for you to view in Retirement Online, we will send you an email to let you know.
View and Update Your Beneficiary
NYSLRS retirement plans provide death benefits for beneficiaries of eligible members who die before retiring. It’s a good idea to review your beneficiaries from time to time to make sure your choices reflect your current wishes. Retirement Online is the fastest way to add or remove beneficiaries or update beneficiary information. Click “Manage My Beneficiaries” on the right, under “I want to…”
Estimate Your Pension
How much will your pension be? It’s an important question as you’re planning for retirement. In just a few steps, most members can estimate their retirement benefit based on up-to-date account information, then save or print the estimate. Entering different dates and comparing the results can help you choose the retirement date that’s right for you. From your Account Homepage, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ section and click the “Estimate my Pension Benefit” button.
Apply for a Loan
It’s easy to apply for a loan in Retirement Online. If you are eligible to take a loan, you can see how much you can borrow, what your repayment options will be and whether your loan will be taxable — all before you apply. And, of course, if you decide to go ahead with the loan, you can apply online too. Click “Apply for a Loan” on the right, under “I want to…”
After you’ve received your loan, click the “Manage My Loans” button to adjust your payment amount or to make a one-time payment.
Request Credit for Previous Service
If you worked for a participating employer before joining NYSLRS, you may be able to purchase service credit for that time. You can use Retirement Online to request credit for previous public employment (and for military service) and to upload any supporting documentation. Click “Manage My Service Credit Purchases” to get started.
View Your Member Annual Statement
Your Member Annual Statement can help you understand your benefits. It’s a snapshot of your NYSLRS account based on the information we have on file for you as of March 31 each year, which is the close of our fiscal year. From your Account Homepage, go to the ‘My Account Summary’ area, click the “View My Member Annual Statement” button and follow the steps to view, print or save your Statement. While you’re there, consider updating your MAS preference to “email” in the ‘My Profile Information’ area of your Account Homepage to receive your Statements faster.
Generate a Mortgage Verification Letter
If you need to show your NYSLRS account information for a mortgage, just click the link under ‘I want to…’ to the right of ‘My Profile Information.’ You can print a document that shows your contribution balance, and, if you have an outstanding loan, the date of your last loan, the current balance and the interest rate.
Apply for Retirement
When you are ready to retire, Retirement Online allows you to skip the hassle of mailing paper forms or visiting our office. You can apply for a service retirement benefit, choose your pension payment option, sign up for direct deposit and submit retirement-related paperwork online. A big advantage of applying online is that you don’t have to get anything notarized. Read our Applying for Retirementblog post for more information and links to resources.
Other Online Transactions
If you previously were a member of another New York State public retirement system before joining NYSLRS, your service could be recredited and your date of membership and tier restored. You can click “Reinstate a Previous Membership” to get started.
If you leave public employment with less than ten years of service credit, you can use Retirement Online to withdraw your membership. However, this will terminate your membership with NYSLRS, so you may wish to speak with a customer service representative before you submit your withdrawal application if you have any questions. You can call them at 866-805-0990 or message them using our secure contact form.
Retirement law can be confusing. Sometimes a small misunderstanding can have a big impact on your benefit. That’s why it’s important to correct some common retirement myths. Here are the top five:
Retirement Myth #1
My NYSLRS contributions go into a personal 401(k)-style savings account that I will get when I retire.
NYSLRS is a defined benefit plan. Your pension will be based on your earnings and years of service — it will not be based on your contributions.
Retirement Myth #2
If I work for more than one NYSLRS participating employer, the service credit from both will count toward my pension benefit.
It depends. You can only earn one year of service credit in a 12-month period. If you work part-time for two participating employers, you would receive credit toward retirement from both, up to the maximum of one year. However, if you already work full-time for one NYSLRS employer plus you work part-time for another employer, your part-time job won’t increase your retirement service credit. Also, if you are a full-time employee of a school district, you won’t earn extra service credit if you work during the summer.
Retirement Myth #3
NYSLRS administers health insurance coverage for its retirees.
NYSLRS does not administer health insurance programs. We may deduct premiums from a retiree’s monthly pension benefit to pay for health insurance coverage if their former employer instructs us to do so, but we can’t answer questions about coverage or changes in premium amounts.
The New York State Department of Civil Service administers the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP) for New York State retirees and some municipal retirees. If you are still working, your employer’s human resources (personnel) office should be able to answer your questions about post-retirement coverage.
Retirement Myth #4
I can take out a NYSLRS loan after I retire.
You need to actively work for New York State or a participating employer to borrow against your retirement contributions. NYSLRS loans are not available to retirees.
Retirement Myth #5
If I’m vested and no longer working for a public employer, NYSLRS will automatically start paying my pension as soon as I’m eligible.
Your pension is not automatic. You must apply for retirement 15 to 90 days before your retirement date. Your retirement date is up to you. Most NYSLRS members can begin collecting their pension as early as age 55. If you retire between age 55 and your full retirement age (62 of 63, depending on your tier and plan), you may face a permanent benefit reduction. If you have left public employment though, your benefit won’t increase after you reach full retirement age, so delaying retirement beyond that point can cost you money.
When you joined NYSLRS, you may have named one or more beneficiaries to receive certain benefits if you die.
NYSLRS retirement plans provide death benefits for beneficiaries of eligible members who die before retiring. The “ordinary death benefit” is paid to the beneficiary or beneficiaries that you designated, so it’s important to review periodically to make sure your choices reflect your current wishes. For example, if you just married, you may want to update your NYSLRS account information to name your new spouse as your beneficiary.
Types of Beneficiaries
There are two types of beneficiaries — primary and contingent beneficiaries:
Your primary beneficiary will receive any payable ordinary death benefit. You can list more than one primary beneficiary. If you do, they would share the benefit equally. Or, you can choose different percentages for each beneficiary that total 100 percent. (Example: John Doe, 50 percent; Jane Doe, 25 percent; and Mary Doe, 25 percent.)
A contingent beneficiary will only receive the benefit if all your primary beneficiaries die before you do. If you list multiple contingent beneficiaries, they will share the benefit equally unless you choose different percentages.
Special Beneficiary Designations
Your beneficiary doesn’t have to be a person. You can name a charity, a trust or your estate as your beneficiary.
When you die, your estate is the money and property you owned. Your death benefit will be given to the executor of your estate to be distributed according to the terms of your will. You can name your estate as the primary or contingent beneficiary of your death benefit. If you name your estate as the primary beneficiary, do not name a contingent beneficiary.
You can name a trust as a primary or contingent beneficiary if you have a trust agreement or provided for a trust in your will. The trust itself would be your NYSLRS beneficiary, not the individuals for whom you established the trust. (You may want to speak with your attorney if you’re thinking about making your trust a beneficiary.)
You can also name any charitable, civic, religious, educational or health-related organization as a beneficiary.
If your beneficiary is a minor child (under age 18) at the time of your death, your benefit will be paid to the child’s court-appointed guardian. You may instead choose a custodian to receive the benefit on the child’s behalf under the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA). Custodians can be designated in Retirement Online or you can contact us for more information and the appropriate form before making this type of designation.
Updating Your Beneficiaries
You can change your beneficiaries at any time. You should also review your named beneficiaries to make sure their contact information is up to date.
The fastest way to view or update your beneficiaries is in Retirement Online. You can add beneficiaries, update beneficiary information or remove beneficiaries. Sign in, then click “Manage My Beneficiaries” on the right, under “I want to ….”
You can also complete and mail us a Designation of Beneficiary form (RS5127). Read the instructions on the form before entering your preferences. Be sure to include all your beneficiaries on the form. Your new beneficiary designations will replace all your previously named beneficiaries. Though your designations will need to be reviewed and approved, your updated beneficiary information becomes effective when we receive your properly completed, signed and notarized form.
One aspect of retirement planning some members may not consider is how a divorce may affect their pension benefit. In New York State, retirement benefits earned by NYSLRS members are considered marital property. So, if you get a divorce, a judge may award your ex-spouse part of your pension. The process for dividing retirement assets after a divorce is complicated, but here is some basic information.
Dividing Pension Benefits After a Divorce
A commonly used formula for distributing pension benefits, established by the State Court of Appeals (the Majauskas formula), provides an ex-spouse with a portion of your pension based on half of the service credit you earned while you were married.
For example, let’s say you worked in your public-sector job for 10 years before you married. Then you got married continued working in public service for another 20 years, and then divorced. After the divorce, you continued working in public service for an additional 10 years. You’d have 40 total years of service credit, but only 20 years of your service was earned during your marriage. Under the Majauskas formula, your ex-spouse would be entitled to the proceeds of half of the service credit you earned during the marriage (10 years of service), or a quarter of your pension.
Other ways to divide pension benefits include a flat dollar amount, a benefit based on a specific date or a flat percentage of the benefit.
Domestic Relations Orders
To divide your retirement benefits after a divorce, NYSLRS needs a Domestic Relations Order (DRO). This court order, issued after a final judgment of divorce, gives us specific instructions on how your benefits should be split.
If your pension benefits will be affected by divorce, your DRO should be submitted to the Retirement System before you apply for retirement. We require a certified copy of the DRO, and it must be signed by a Supreme Court judge and entered as an official court document. We also require proof of divorce, such as a copy of the judgment of divorce. Failure to submit your DRO before you retire could result in a delay of your pension payments or an overpayment to you, which would need to be recovered by NYSLRS.
Most NYSLRS members contribute a percentage of their earnings to help fund pension benefits. For Tier 6 members (those who joined NYSLRS on or after April 1, 2012), that percentage, or contribution rate, can change from year to year.
When Tier 6 Contribution Rates are Determined
A Tier 6 member’s contribution rate is calculated annually. New rates become effective on April 1, the beginning of the State’s fiscal year. Once your rate is determined for a given fiscal year, it doesn’t change for the rest of that fiscal year.
Recently enacted legislation removed overtime earned from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2022, from the Tier 6 contribution rate calculation. For some Tier 6 members, this means lower contribution rates for up to two years, including this coming State fiscal year. Read about it in our blog post, Overtime Pay Temporarily Excluded From Tier 6 Contribution Rates.
How Your Tier 6 Contribution Rate is Calculated
Tier 6 contribution rates are based on what you earn during a State fiscal year, from April 1 through March 31. The minimum rate is 3 percent of your earnings, and the maximum is 6 percent. Your contribution rate is calculated by NYSLRS based on the earnings reported by your employer.
If you are a Tier 6 member with three or more years of membership in NYSLRS, your rates are based on your earnings from the last completed fiscal year. We provide rates to your employer in March, a few weeks before they need to apply any rate changes for the Tier 6 employees at your organization. For example, the contribution rate being provided to your employer in March 2023 is based on earnings for the fiscal year that ended March 2022 (so, what you earned from April 1, 2021 through March 31, 2022).
This video will help explain how your contribution rate is determined:
If you are a new NYSLRS member, during your first three years of membership your contribution rate is based on an estimated annual wage that your employer provided when you were enrolled as a new member.
The amount you contribute to the Retirement System will not affect the amount of your pension. A NYSLRS pension is a defined-benefit plan. Under this type of plan, once you are eligible for a pension and apply for retirement, you will receive a monthly payment for the rest of your life. The amount of your pension will be calculated using a formula based on your retirement plan, years of service and final average earnings. You can learn more about your pension by reading your retirement plan publication. Use our Find Your NYSLRS Retirement Plan Publication tool to find yours.